by Sammie Audion
Ever wondered about the underwater world, but you are uncomfortable with the water as an element? Maybe you saw too many ‘Jaws’ movies? Or is it simply too technical? Second Life® (SL) might offer you a way to give it a try anyway.
SubOceana, and Heps Virtual Dive Systems, their SL component, is a company from Marseille, France that works on augmenting virtualization. They have a variety of very advanced, professional applications. But they also have a place in SL that allows for the experience of scuba diving. They offer a small mall to get the equipment. The sim itself is part of thirty connected ocean sims filled with sea life and treasures, wrecks and lost cities just waiting for you to explore them.
Scuba diving in Real Life (RL) certainly has a technical aspect to it. All the varieties of dive gear packages available at the scuba store at the SubOceanic sim address the technical aspects to some extent: The HUD shows your depth and dive time on a realistic dive computer screen. There also is a pressure gauge showing how much air you have currently left in your tank, appropriately measured in PSI.
As you are getting the hang of it, you can get tanks that are not “filled” with standard air. Two very common alternative gas mixes for scuba diving are Nitrox and Trimix. Nitrox is a mix with a higher partial pressure of oxygen, which allows for longer dive times on shallow dives with less decompression requirements. Trixmix typically has helium added in the mix. This allows for deeper dives. In RL it would take you quite a while to get to this level of technical diving.
Granted, some aspects do not translate accurately into the virtual world – but on second thought, its probably not that important and it is certainly not an easy task to accomplish. Heps Virtual Dive Systems (SL division of SubOceana) provides pretty realistic gear including a HUD that actually lets you read the instruments during the dive.
As soon as you dive into the world of this virtual ocean the adventure begins. Maybe it appears a little foreign at first, but you will get used to it. You will find turtles, squid, octopus, jellyfish, and of course sharks. Of course, can also see a variety of other fish like wrasse, perch, bass or even a scorpion-fish or a stingray here and there. Some scenes truly look like they are taken right from an aquarium.
Some RL scuba organizations, like PADI, are represented in SL. While it is not very plausible to get RL diving certification in SL anytime soon, it might be a good way to get introduced to the ocean. How knows, maybe it will awaken your passion for the underwater world.